Free Events: Readings and Receptions

Each day at the conference ends with a networking reception and literary reading. These events are free and open to the public.

Location for free events:

Wieboldt Hall
7th Floor
339 E. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Northwestern University Literary Reading

hosted by the MA in Writing and MFA in Poetry and Prose Programs

4:45 p.m.: Mixer (drinks, snacks, and mingling)
5:30 p.m.: Literary Reading

Join Northwestern University's MA in Writing and MFA in Prose & Poetry programs for readings of original work by faculty and graduates.

The readers include:

Faculty: Paula Carter, Simone Muench and  Christine Sneed
Alumni: J-L Deher-Lesaint, Vincent Franconemarssie Mencotti, Jeremy T. Wilson

Friday, August 16, 2019

Indie Press Reading

hosted by Northwestern University School of Professional Studies

4:45 p.m.: Refreshments and Networking
5:30 p.m.: Literary Reading

Please join the School of Professional Studies for a reading of featured authors from Chicago-area indie presses and publishers. 

Readers include Nancy Burke (Gibson House Press), Kelcey Parker Ervick (Rose Metal Press), Jonathan Foiles (Belt Publishing), Angela Jackson (Third World Press), Billy Lombardo (Tortoise Books), and Tony Romano (Allium Press). The evening's emcee is Barbara Egel.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Live Lit Performance

hosted by the Summer Writers' Conference

4:45 p.m.: Refreshments and networking
5:30 p.m.: Live Lit Performance

Our final reading of the conference features storytellers and live lit performers from across Chicago.

Performers include: Ian Belknap, Sarah Hollenbeck, Archy Jamun, Dana Norris, Jeremy Owens, and Kenyatta Rogers. The evening's emcee is Patricia Crisafulli.


Ian Belknap

Ian Belknap is a Chicago writer/performer/instructor and founder/Overlord of WRITE CLUB, the world's greatest competitive readings series (Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, with more cities on the way). He is author/performer of the solo shows Bring Me the Head of James Franco, That I May Prepare a Savory Goulash in the Narrow and Misshapen Pot of His Skull, Wide Open Beaver Shot of My Heart: A Comedy With a Body Count, Terminal Ferocity, and Uncle Dad is Rip-Shit, You Guys. He curated and hosted the monologue shows Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Ian's Dog & Pony Show. Ian's work has been featured in the live lit shows This Much is True, Truth and Lies, That's All She Wrote, Story Club Chicago, Fictilicious, Essay Fiesta, Guts & Glory, Fillet of Solo Theater Festival, and the Rhino Theater Festival, among others. He served as Fact Checker for The Encyclopedia Show, and is on the masthead of The Paper Machete as the Dean of Mean, and is a regular cast member/contributor to the fiction podcast Pleasuretown. Ian has been on panels and presented at TEDx Greenville, Arts & Business Council of Chicago, League of Chicago Theatres, Printers, Row Book Fair, Chicago Writers, Conference, and Decatur Book Fest, among others, and has appeared as a guest lecturer at Columbia College Chicago and DePaul University. He has performed at The Poetry Foundation, The Smart Museum of Art at University of Chicago, and Museum of Contemporary Art, among many other venues. He has been named to New City Chicago’s “Lit 50” list twice – in 2013 and 2015. His work has appeared in The Chicago Reader, The Rumpus, The Chicago Tribune, Crain's Chicago Business, Slackjaw, The Hit List, Bullshitist, Arts + Marketing, Untoward, Chicago Literati, Story Club Magazine, and the Reading Out Loud podcast, among others. He is co-editor and contributor to Bare-Knuckled Lit: The Best of WRITE CLUB (Hope & Nonthings, 2014), and co-host of the WRITE CLUB podcast.

Nancy Burke

Nancy Burke is a writer, musician and psychoanalyst. Undergrowth (Gibson House Press, October 2017), her debut novel, delves deep into a clash of indigenous and outside cultures, family ties, and greed in the lush Amazon rainforest, where a remote tribe, mercenaries, government agents and well-meaning advocates struggle for control of natural resources amid complex character relationships.  Burke’s poetry has been published in Permafrost, Confrontation, The American Poetry Journal, Whitefish Review, The Seattle Review, Green Mountains Review, and other literary journals. She has been a featured writer in After Hours, and her work has been recognized with a Gradiva award, an Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship, an Illinois Arts Council Literary Award, an International Merit Award from the Atlanta Review, and a Fish prize. American Goodbye is Burke’s first recording of original songs; her second is due in 2019. An Associate Clinical Professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University, Burke is on the faculty of the Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis, where she is the immediate past-president. She is co-chair of PsiAN, the Psychotherapy Action Network, is vice president of ISPS-US, and is a board member of CCP, Rainforest Relief, Show Up Stand Up and EMHS-NFP. She lives in Evanston, Illinois, with her husband, two children, and three cats. 

Paula Carter

Paula Carter is the author of the flash memoir No Relation. Her works have appeared in The New York TimesUSA Today, Kenyon ReviewThe Southern ReviewTriQuarterlyPrairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Based in Chicago, she is a company member with the storytelling series 2nd Story and teaches writing at Northwestern University.

Patricia Crisafulli

Patricia Crisafulli received a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree from Northwestern University in 2017 and was awarded the Distinguished Thesis Award in Creative Writing for her novel in progress, The Cross of Siena. Patricia has also studied in the prestigious Bread Loaf writers’ program (in Sicily). 

Patricia has received the Silver Pen Association’s Write Well Award for three of her short stories and has published in an anthology featuring award winners. She is also the author of a collection of short stories and essays entitled Inspired Every DayEssays and Stories to Brighten Your Day, Give You Hope, and Strengthen Your Faith, published by Hallmark. 

Patricia is the author of the New York Times bestseller, House of Dimon: How JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon Rose to the Top of the Financial World (John Wiley & Sons, 2009). She co-authored, with Andrea Redmond, Rwanda, Inc: How a Devastated Nation Became an Economic Model for the Developing World (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2012), which was an Editor’s Choice Book on Amazon, and Comebacks: Powerful Lessons from Leaders Who Endured Setbacks and Recaptured Success on Their Terms (Jossey-Bass, 2010). Her first book, written under the name Patricia Commins, was Remembering Mother, Finding Myself: A Journey of Love and Self-Acceptance (HCI Books, 1999. 

Her labor of love is, an e-literary magazine that features original fiction, essays, and poetry. 

J-L Deher-Lesaint

Born and raised in Guadeloupe (French West Indies), J-L Deher-Lesaint has lived in the United States since 1995. He holds degrees from Harold Washington College, Loyola University Chicago, the University of Virginia and Northwestern University. His feature interviews with Edmund White and Edward P. Jones have appeared in Meridian: The Semi-Annual from the University of Virginia, where he also served as fiction editor; and his book reviews have appeared in New City and the Virginia Quarterly Review. He has taught creative writing and  advanced freshman composition at the University of Virginia. Since 2004, he has taught developmental, intermediate and advanced composition courses, contemporary American literature, introduction to literature, Queer literature, and seminars in fiction writing and in cinema at Harold Washington College, where he served as Department Co-Chairperson for the English, Speech, Theatre and Journalism Department from January 2015 to August 2019. His cinema seminars have focused on themes ranging from “The Cinema of Alfred Hitchcock,” “Noir, Neo-Noir, Dreams and Nightmares,” “Undoing The Male Gaze,” “Women in Noir,” and “In The Realms of Terror: The Monstrous Feminine.”

Barbara Egel

Barbara Egel is a teacher, writer, editor, and consultant. She has degrees in literature from the University of Illinois and Northwestern University with concentrations in performance studies, early modern literature, and modernism. She has published a number of children’s books as well as poetry and a play in journals including Lavender Review and Katherine Mansfield Studies, and she reviews poetry for Light and Booklist. Barbara teaches at Harold Washington College and Northwestern University.

Kelcey Parker Ervick

Kelcey Parker Ervick is the author of three award-winning books: The Bitter Life of Božena Němcová (Rose Metal Press, 2016), a hybrid work of biography, memoir, and visual art; Liliane's Balcony (Rose Metal Press, 2013), a novella set at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater; and the story collection, For Sale By Owner (Kore Press, 2011). In 2018, she committed to making a painting or comic every day and it has transformed her creative life. You can view her ongoing work at: or visit her web page at:

Jonathan Foiles

Jonathan Foiles is a writer and psychotherapist based in Chicago. His book This City is Killing Me: Community Trauma and Toxic Stress in Urban America illustrates how policy decisions intersect with mental health through case studies of five of his patientsHis writing has also appeared in Slate, Belt Magazine, and the Chicago Review of Books, and he blogs regularly at Psychology Today.

Vincent Francone

Vincent Francone's work has appeared in New City Magazine, Rain Taxi Review of Books, Rhino and other journals. He won the State of Illinois’ Gwendolyn Brooks Award for poetry and is the author of the memoir Like a Dog (2015) and the essay collection The Soft Lunacy (2018). He lives in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago with his wife and a feisty dog.

Sarah Hollenbeck

Sarah Hollenbeck has published personal essays in Dogwood, TriQuarterly, Shondaland, and elsewhere. Her essay "A Goldmine" was nominated for a Pushcart and received a Notable Mention in Best American Essays. She's also a contributor to the 2017 anthology NASTY WOMEN (Picador). But she’s often distracted from her writing by her day-job running Women & Children First, one of the last remaining feminist bookstores in the country. As the store's co-owner she has been featured in New CIty's Lit50 and in Publisher's Weekly Star Watch, which honors 40 young people who are making a difference in the U.S. publishing industry. She earned her MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from Northwestern in 2012.

Angela Jackson

Angela Jackson is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Voo Doo/Love Magic (1974); Dark Legs and Silk Kisses (TriQuarterly, 1993), which won the Carl Sandburg Award; And All These Roads Be Luminous(TriQuarterly, 1998); and It Seems Like a Mighty Long Time (TriQuarterly, 2015). She has also written several plays, including Witness! (1978), Shango Diaspora: An African-American Myth of Womanhood and Love (1980), and When the Wind Blows (1984). Her novel Where I Must Go (TriQuarterly, 2009) won the American Book Award. Jackson’s honors include a Pushcart Prize, TriQuarterly’s Daniel Curley Award, the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award, the Academy of American Poets Prize, and grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council. Jackson lives in Chicago.

Archy Jamun

Archy Jamjun is a writer and storyteller raised in Lincolnwood and living downtown. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Roosevelt University and has taught at North Park University and Truman College. His writing has appeared in The Coachella Review and The Rumpus. He is a two-time The Moth Grand Slam winner and curator for OUTspoken: A LGTBQ Storytelling Show at Sidetrack. His solo show "A Boy & A Diva" debuted at the Fillet of Solo Festival in January 2019.

Billy Lombardo

Billy Lombardo has been writing since 1975 when Gia Sparacino came into the old neighborhood, Bridgeport, and crushed Billy’s heart. As it turns out, that was the first of many such torments, largely responsible for his desire to write. Billy is the author of The Man with Two Arms, How to Hold a Woman, The Logic of a Rose, and Meanwhile, Roxy Mourns. He is currently working on a book on the craft of fiction for young/new writers. Billy’s most recent story, We Were Hearing New Sounds in the Condo, was published in April by HCE Review, an online publication in Ireland. Billy is a Nelson Algren Fiction Award winner and the founder and managing editor of Polyphony Lit, a student-run, international literary magazine for high school writers and editors that will blow your mind. He can be reached through his writing, editing, and coaching business called Writing Pros/e:

marssie Mencotti

marssie Mencotti began studying theatre at Northwestern University. Before graduating she moved to Pennsylvania, then returned to Chicago and finished her B.A. in Theatre at UIC.  Resulting from a career in radio at multiple stations, she was selected to teach at Columbia College Chicago, where she developed the voiceover minor and received tenure. She continues to teach VO there as adjunct faculty.

In 2012, she entered NU’s School of Professional Studies and received an M.A. in Creative Writing. Under the pseudonym, Marcella Bernard, she self-published (2018) a novel of creative non-fiction entitled Pro Patria - The Story of an American Who Fought for Italy in World War I.

marssie is an actor on non-equity stages around Chicago. She was nominated for two Jeff awards in 2019. She is represented by NV Talent for voice and Big Mouth for on camera. She begins rehearsals in September for a new musical, “TRU.”

Simone Muench

Simone Muench is the author of six full-length books including Orange Crush and Wolf Centos. Her recent, Suture, is a collection of sonnets written with Dean Rader. She and Rader also edited They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing. She is Professor of English at Lewis University where she teaches creative writing and film studies. Currently, she serves as faculty advisor for Jet Fuel Review, as a poetry editor for Tupelo Quarterly, and as host of the HB Sunday Reading Series.​

Dana Norris

Dana Norris is the founder of Story Club, a monthly storytelling show in Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Tulsa, Boston, and Minneapolis. According to she is one of the 30 funniest women in Ohio. Dana teaches nonfiction at Literary Cleveland and she has been published in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The Rumpus, the Tampa Review, Cleveland Scene, and Role/Reboot, among others. Her stories have been featured on the RISK! podcast, Cleveland Public Radio, and Chicago Public Radio. You may see her upcoming performance schedule at

Jeremy Owens

Jeremy Owens is the creator, producer and host of You're Being Ridiculous, a long running live-lit show most recently featured at Steppenwolf Theatre as part of their LookOut Series. Jeremy is also the co-editor for Heauxs Chicago, and a writer for Oy!Chicago. His writing has appeared in The Daily DotStory Club Magazine,Role RebootThe JUF News, and Thread, and his work has also been featured in the live-lit shows Essay Fiesta, Fillet of Solo Theatre Festival, Guts & Glory, Story Club Chicago, Story Sessions, The Paper Machete, This Much Is True, That's All She Wrote and others. He teaches live-lit/storytelling at Story Studio Chicago, and is a graduate of The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and has an MFA in performance from Roosevelt University in Chicago.

Kenyatta Rogers

Kenyatta Rogers is a Cave Canem Fellow and has been awarded multiple scholarships from the Breadloaf Writers' Conference. He has also been nominated multiple times for both Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes. His work has been previously published in or is forthcoming from Jubilat, Vinyl, Bat City Review, The Volta, PANK, MAKE Magazine among others. He is as a co-host of the Sunday Reading Series with Simone Muench, an Associate Editor with RHINO Poetry and currently serves on the Creative Writing Faculty at the Chicago High School for the Arts.

Tony Romano

Tony Romano is the author of the novel, Where My Body Ends and the World Begins(Allium Press), When the World Was Young (HarperCollins) and the story collection, If You Eat, You Never Die (HarperCollins). He is also the coauthor of Expository Composition: Discovering Your Voice and coauthor or the text, Psychology and You. He was recently named Illinois Author of the Year by the Illinois Association for Teachers of English (IATE) and was honored with a Norman Mailer award. One of his story collections was a finalist in AWP’s annual contest. He is a two-time winner of a PEN Syndicated Fiction Project award.  Both stories were produced on National Public Radio’s “The Sound of Writing” series and syndicated to newspapers nationwide. He lives near Chicago and writes about books, music, work, and family on his blog at

Christine Sneed

Christine Sneed is the author of the novels Paris, He Said and Little Known Facts and the story collections Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry and The Virginity of Famous Men.  Her stories or essays have been included in The Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Stories, New Stories from the Midwest, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, New England Review, The Southern Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Greensboro Review, and a number of other periodicals.

Her books have received AWP’s Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction, Ploughshares' Zacharis prize, the Society of Midland Authors Award, the Chicago Public Library’s 21st Century Award, and Book of the Year from the Chicago Writers Association.  She is the faculty director for the MFA program at Northwestern University’s MA/MFA program in creative writing; she is also on the fiction faculty of the Regis University low-residency MFA program.

Jeremy T. Wilson

Jeremy T. Wilson is the author of the short story collection Adult Teeth. He is a former winner of the Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award for short fiction, and his work has appeared in literary magazines such as The Carolina QuarterlyThe Florida ReviewHobartRHINOSonora ReviewThird Coast and other publications. He holds an MFA from Northwestern University and teaches creative writing at The Chicago High School for the Arts. He lives in Evanston, Illinois with his wife and daughter.

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